Tobacco Commission (TC), regulator of tobacco industry in the country, has said it is on course with preparations for opening of the 2020 tobacco selling season.

This is following a directive by President Peter Mutharika to the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure that the tobacco marketing season is in operation amid fears of Covid-19 spread.

Tobacco selling points are always among densely populated markets in the country.

Earlier, TC said opening of the market could delay due to Covid-19 threats.

TC Chief Executive Officer, Kaisi Sadala, however, said Monday that following the directive, the commission will announce dates for opening of the market soon.

“The commission will be announcing dates for opening the market and measures put in place to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus at our floors,” Sadala said.

Tobacco market operator, AHL Group said it is ready for the season and has since put in place systematic measures to mitigate possible spread of Coronavirus.

AHL Group Public Relations Manager, Teresa Ndanga, said in an interview Monday that all is set for the opening of the market.

Among other measures, Ndanga said the institution will ensure that the selling points would not be housing in excess of 100 people at a time and that they will be given limited timeframe to be within the auction floors.

She said AHL will do intensive testing of people accessing the market while providing necessary kits including hand sanitisers and masks.

“We conducted a mock sale on Friday and it has proven possible to follow all the precautionary measures. Health officials have also recommended the process,” Ndanga said.

Ndanga then urged tobacco growers to consider using AHL mobile services to follow up on trading of their leaf to ensure decongestion of the marking points.

Traditionally, tobacco sales in the country start end March or early April. The start of tobacco sales is crucial for Malawi as it brings with it tobacco dollars which help to enhance the strength of the local trading unit, the Malawi kwacha.

 

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